DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism
The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."
Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"
- The potential perpetrators may feel emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob, DHS stated in the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin.
What's happening: Domestic extremists targeted people with opposing views at protests throughout 2020, DHS said. The agency fears the same people will continue to cause violence this year.
- Violent actors have targeted the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors "citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions."
Zoom in: The advisory says "long-standing racial and ethnic tension — including opposition to immigration" could cause a rise in violence, citing the 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people.
What they're saying: The department "encourages state, local, tribal, and territorial homeland security partners to continue prioritizing physical security measures, particularly around government facilities, to protect people and critical infrastructure," per the advisory.
The big picture: National security officials for years have sounded the alarm about a domestic terror threat in the U.S. Those calls have crescendoed since a pro-Trump mob that included white nationalists and those with anti-government sentiments attacked Congress on Jan. 6.
- The Biden administration has said it will conduct an assessment of the threat posed by domestic extremism.